The National Library of medicine has published a study detailing the effects of alcohol withdrawal and the main causes that allow people to become affected by alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal usually occurs in a person that has been drinking alcohol regularly for a series of consecutive days. As an individual continues to drink more regularly, the likelihood of developing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when
The main causes of alcohol withdrawal stem from dependence on alcohol. When your body becomes dependent on alcohol for caloric intake and gets used to the chemistry of having alcohol in your system, stopping the process of drinking can actually put your central nervous system into a shocked state where it has to adapt to functioning without the use of any alcohol. When you start to significantly reduce the amount of alcohol that you drink regularly, or you stop entirely the central nervous system reacts and begins to cause alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Because alcohol can effect and enhance GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) in our system this can change the way that our brain reacts in the way that our central nervous system behaves. GABA can often inhibit the way that our brain functions and it reduces the reaction time and excitability of brain functions. This is partially why you can start to feel a bit sluggish and situations seem muted with the assistance of alcohol. The alcohol withdraw symptoms begin to come about when the brain is finally presented with its baseline state. If you have been drinking regularly over a month for example, the brain can become overwhelmed when the effects of alcohol sedation take place. With the inhibition removed from brain functions, our environment as well as our physical processes can be overwhelming to take care of at first.
There are a number of individuals who qualify for a higher risk of alcohol withdrawal symptoms over other people. Understanding if you could be at risk for developing these symptoms is important to recognizing when it might be time to address your alcohol consumption. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur in children, teenagers, adults, the elderly and more. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are much more present in adults than children or teens but you fall under the risk factors if you are defined as a heavy drinker.
The Center for disease control and prevention has published statistics on what is defined as heavy drinking. Standard drinks are rated at .6 ounces of alcohol for this study. This means that the average standard drink could be 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of wine or 12 ounces of beer. Heavy drinking is defined for women as 8 or more drinks per week or 15 or more drinks per week for men.
Regular binge drinking can also contribute to the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in a single evening in women or five or more drinks in a single evening for men. Regular binge drinkers who are participating in binge drinking several times over a week are at an increased risk for developing alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Binge drinkers who go on sustained drinking binges that last two weeks or longer have some of the highest risk factors for alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
There are many other individual demographics and conditions that can contribute to the chance of a much greater risk of alcohol withdrawal symptoms over other individuals. Some of the other individuals that could experience a greater risk for AWS include:
Individuals with existing medical conditions affecting their kidneys, liver or cardiac health. If liver or kidney functions are impeded, drinking to excess or attempting to quit drinking alcohol can lead to some of the worst withdrawal symptoms.
The elderly: elderly patients to have been regularly consuming alcohol over many years can experience the greatest likelihood of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. As a person continues to age, their system can react more violently when they decide to quit or taper off their alcohol use.
Longstanding drinkers: If an individual has been binging daily for a decade or more, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be severe and very quick to take place. Long-standing/ regular binging over time can drastically increase the risk factor of developing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Individuals with epilepsy: individuals with epilepsy who have been drinking regularly will develop a much higher risk of seizure as well as the greater chance of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Other conditions that can cause seizures similar to epilepsy will also fall in this category.
Individuals that have experienced AWS before: if you have experienced AWS or a family member has experienced AWS before, it is possible that you can develop more severe withdrawal symptoms. If your body is already susceptible to alcohol withdrawal symptoms, you will likely know the signs and it is rare that they will be avoided if you have ceased using alcohol again after relapse.
With understanding of the risks associated with alcohol withdrawal, it’s important to understand the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal so that you can address the signs early on. There are treatment options which are available for alcohol withdrawal as well as diagnosis and prevention efforts that can ease the symptoms. Here are some of the top alcohol withdrawal symptoms that you should be watching for in the event of a family member ceasing their alcohol consumption or if you have decided to reduce your drinking.
Most of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms and signs will appear first we symptoms from the central nervous system. The basic symptoms can vary depending on the risk factors associated with the individual. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, hallucinations and more. Some of the more mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include sleep loss and anxiety.
The symptoms of withdrawal will generally begin between six hours to 24 hours after the last alcoholic drink. The alcohol withdrawal timeline can vary based on the length that a person has been drinking. In most cases the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will reach their peak for the first 24 to 72 hours after drinking has stopped.
Anixety: Anxiety can occur readily in the event of alcohol withdrawal and any previous anxiety disorder can be exacerbated during alcohol withdraw as well. Anxiety can be coupled with extreme sweating, hyperventilation, dizziness and in some cases even chest pain.
Fatigue: Fatigue from sleep disturbances is common and sleep problems will continue for weeks on into alcohol withdrawals. Ongoing drowsiness throughout the day as well as reduction in performance are common symptoms for many suffering from alcohol withdrawal. The risk for car crashes and other accidents can go up considerably when in alcohol withdrawal.
Depression: alcoholic withdrawal can often lead to symptoms of depression. Depression can be caused by the consistent fatigue and depression in alcohol withdrawal can be exacerbated by individuals that have been diagnosed with depression in the past. Many experts suggest that this depression comes as a result of the decline of intoxication and the behavioral changes that come about as a result of detoxifying from alcohol use.
Irritability: mood swings, irritability and anger can all be involved in the early common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. When the body is forced to give up something that it has become dependent on, it can be quite easy for your mind to also snap to irritability as it is also in withdrawal.
Shakiness: the signs of shakiness can be associated with the delirium tremens in extreme cases but generally it is an anxiety response. This happens as a result of increased hyperactivity in the autonomic nervous system. Shakiness and nervousness can also be associated with anxiety and the nervous system being in a heightened state after the reduction in its inhibited state from alcohol.
Scatterbrained: Having difficulty collecting your thoughts or remaining efficient comes with the fatigue and the process of your brain chemistry adapting to functioning without alcohol.
Ongoing headaches: ongoing headaches or migraines can be an ongoing symptom of dehydration as well as withdrawal.
Clammy skin: clammy skin is also a sign of extreme dehydration and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. With proper hydration and recovery the skin will return to an improved format.
Nausea: nausea and vomiting can be symptoms of dehydration as well as withdrawal. These symptoms generally peak within the first 72 hours after the process of quitting alcohol.
Increase heart rate/damage to the heart: The heart is one of the largest sites that can become damaged during alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Abnormal cardiac rhythms are common during alcohol recovery and with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The chances of arrhythmia increase primarily after binge drinking sessions and severe alcohol withdrawal can in rare cases cause sudden cardiac death or severe damage to the heart.
Hallucinations: hallucinations can occur from almost every sense. These types of hallucinations are regularly quite rare occurring in just 10% of patients in severe alcohol withdrawal. Hallucinations can be auditory, visual or even with your sense of touch.
Seizures: seizures can occur as a result of acute alcohol withdrawal. The glutamate systems within the body can change NMDA receptor functions which are often inhibited by alcohol sedation effects. As the receptors are altered in their function this can drastically increase the risk for seizures especially in individuals that are susceptible to them.
Confusion: Ongoing confusion can occur as a result of brain functions being overexcited as well as competition between the brain and other symptoms of withdrawal.
Fever: Fever or a change in body temperature can often come as a result of extreme hyperventilation, changes in heart rhythm and more. Fever or sickness can begin to resemble the symptoms of the flu with acute alcohol withdrawal when combined with nausea.
In severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms a condition called the delirium tremens can occur. Delirium tremens or the DT’s are characterized by onset confusion, in some cases hallucinations, irregular heart rate, shivering, shaking, fever and more. As alcohol can be one of the most dangerous drugs to undergo withdrawal symptoms from after high and regular intake, treatment especially if the signs of delirium tremens has occurred is very important. Roughly 3 to 5% of those undergoing alcohol withdrawal symptoms will experience delirium tremens or have seizures. Without treatment, those that experience delirium tremens can experience a 15% mortality rate. With treatment that mortality rate can decrease to 2% of cases.
The symptoms of delirium tremens often appear 2 to 3 days into alcohol withdrawal and they can continue to at least 10 days after the last drink a person had. Some of the first signs are a fast heart rate, high blood pressure and mass disorientation. A mass feeling of anxiety or imminent doom can be a big symptom towards the late stages of delirium tremens.
Tremors, panic attacks and severe paranoia can all be included with the symptoms of the DT’s. In most cases individuals at great risk for developing this severe withdrawal condition are those that have been drinking over a long period and stop abruptly. The DT’s can also be triggered by individuals who have an ongoing history of heavy use of alcohol that become involved in an accident. Heavy alcohol users that suffer head injuries, severe illness or infection can sometimes start to exhibit the symptoms especially if they are forced to start detoxing from alcohol as a result of their accident or condition.
The signs of delirium tremens can be slightly different from the signs of severe alcohol withdrawal and it is important remember the treatment is strongly advised to those experiencing these symptoms.
By understanding the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal you can work at receiving help as well as understand what to expect in the future with recovery.
The alcohol withdrawal timeline can be very helpful for tracking your progress or a close friend or family member’s progress through alcohol withdrawal. Understanding what to expect in the future will ensure that you are prepared to ask for help if needed. If you have begun to identify some of the early signs of alcohol withdrawal in 6 to 24 hours after your last drink, here are some of the other elements to watch for in the alcohol withdrawal timeline.
The first stage (6-8 hours):
This first stage of alcohol withdrawal can occur between 6 to 8 hours after the last drink a person has. Depending on the amount of time that a person has been drinking or the length of a binge, this first stage can strike sooner or later in some individuals. Under the first stage a person may begin to experience nausea, sweating, increases in pain receptors as well as anxiety. Insomnia is also a common feature of stage one alcohol withdrawal. Even if you feel fatigued, it can be very difficult to sleep with the other symptoms keeping you awake.
The second stage (24-72 hours):
During the second stage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can often peak to their most dangerous levels especially with individuals who have been drinking regularly over many years. This stage begins 24 to 72 hours after the last drink that a person has. Generally during this stage cardiovascular health can fall into a risk. This is where a person can start to experience fever, heightened blood pressure, heart arrhythmia as well as confusion, depression and more.
The third stage (72 hours- 7 days):
Alcohol withdrawal can rise to another level 72 hours after the last drink has been had. With people suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal, hallucinations can begin after 72 hours. Extreme agitation, fever, sickness, depression and more can all be a part of this final stage. Symptoms will generally peak at 72 hours and can persist for five days before they begin to decrease. This third stage can be one of the most difficult and dangerous for those recovering from alcohol addiction but in many cases after seven days of recovery, the symptoms can be lessened. While alcohol withdrawal symptoms will not completely dissipate within seven days for all individuals, the reduction in symptoms will continue over days or weeks as long as relapse does not occur. In some critical cases, full recovery from alcohol withdrawal can take months.
While there is no true answer to the length of alcohol withdrawal there are a number of factors that go into the severity of symptoms as well as how long alcohol withdrawal symptoms can actually last for a person. The stages of alcohol withdrawal will be fairly consistent for most people according to the alcohol withdrawal timeline but overcoming full withdrawal symptoms can take some people hours, some people days or some people even months.
Some of the main factors that are associated with the overall length of alcohol withdrawal and the severity of alcohol withdrawal include:
As the length of alcohol withdrawal can be different for everyone it’s also important to have a treatment option or medical intervention solution available should you experience extreme difficulty. Medical supervision could help to get through the process of withdrawal with intervention that will prevent your dependence on alcohol taking over. There are also a number of medical treatments that can assist with the process of alcohol detox as well as monitoring that can help to improve the negative symptoms experienced with alcohol withdrawal.
When you are detoxing from alcohol there are a number of assistance items that you could consider to ensure that you are successful in detoxifying and overcoming any of the withdrawal symptoms that you might experience along the way. Some of the more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms require treatment and monitoring as the risk factor for severe health conditions goes up exponentially without medical intervention.
Here are some of the ways that you can find assistance with the help of alcohol withdrawal symptoms:
Depending on your dependents for alcohol and the amount of time that you have been drinking for, it could be wise to seek help with the process of detoxing from alcohol. Through a rehabilitation program or outpatient detox program, it is possible to receive medications and support to help you through the withdrawal. As well as ensure that you have medical intervention that can help to prevent relapse. Seeking out medical attention and enrolling in an Partial hospitalization program is one of the best ways to undergo alcohol detox with the help of medical intervention. Undergoing medical intervention for the first few days will help to make sure that health can be monitored during the time of greatest risk. Assistance with the help of a medical intervention specialist can also ensure that the process of alcohol detox can be performed successfully. Overcoming the first few days of detox is essential to reducing withdrawal symptoms as well as dependency. After detox and the initial alcohol withdrawal symptoms of possible that ongoing support groups and therapy can be helpful for reducing dependency and avoiding relapse.
When working with medical professionals to eliminate the highest risk symptoms of withdrawal, the overall goal of these professionals will be to eventually prepare a patient to enjoy long-term abstinence. The initial treatment goals for patients experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms is to prevent major trauma. Medical professionals will focus in on the chance to eliminate seizures, reduce nausea, reduce the chance of cardiovascular injury and more. Some of the top medications that are usually prescribed to patients undergoing alcohol withdrawal symptoms are thiamine and folic acid. Thiamine is administered as a nutritional supplement that also lowers the risk of Wernicke Encephalopathy which is of high risk to those with critical alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Medications such as Benzodiazepines can help to prevent major withdrawal symptom progression as well as prevent tremors, seizures and convulsions. These types of medications last over a long period of time and they can work to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal over the entire withdrawal process. These types of medications are usually administered to patients in a small dosage or based on the persistence of symptoms.
Anti-convulsions like Gabapentin, Carbamazepine and Oxcarbazepine are prescribed as well. These medications can prevent the symptoms of nausea, dizziness as well as vomiting. The medications help to calm symptoms and prevent early relapse but they do not provide support for dealing with more severe symptoms like seizures.
Beta blockers: beta blockers are often administered to reduce cardiovascular strain with raised blood pressure and heart arrhythmia. The use of beta blockers and recovery is especially important to patients who have experienced cardiovascular health issues in the past or for individuals that have experienced more negative cardiovascular symptoms.
Ongoing monitoring with the help of a doctor is extremely crucial to managing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Most patients in rehabilitation facilities undergo regular daily evaluation as well as adjustments to their medication to normalize symptoms. Regular doctors appointments should be made after leaving an outpatient facility to check on Paul’s, blood pressure and overall health. In some rehabilitation programs breathalyzer tests may also be carried out at random during doctors appointments to prevent relapse. If relapse occurs after detox it is extremely important that an individual see an addiction specialist to work at reducing dependency on alcohol so that alcohol withdrawal symptoms do not need to continuously occur. After a relapse, if alcohol withdrawal symptoms were present with the first alcohol detox, they will likely manifest and lead to increased risk on a second detoxification effort.
After successful treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms abstinence is always one of the highest recommended options for those recovering. If you have experienced severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms you could place your health at risk by relapse and. Long-term Alice Nance from alcohol abuse could require ongoing counseling and support but it is much better than the alternative of risking health and well-being through the increased risk of critical withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can continue for months after a person has completed the alcohol detox process. Even with long-term outlooks on alcohol withdrawals, the risk for organ damage and a number of other health concerns go up just from previous alcohol abuse.
Even months after a person has undergone the initial withdrawal symptoms, they can continue to experience mood swings, fatigue, symptoms of depression and more. Completely recovering from the symptoms is possible in time but with relapse there is a continued risk for developing alcohol withdrawal symptoms again as well as access risk placed on vital organs such as the nervous system, liver and heart.
Individuals that have been involved with regular alcohol use that initiated alcohol withdrawal, put themselves at increased risk for many long-term health effects such as:
In a study completed in 2009 roughly 3.8% of all global deaths were attributed to the use of alcohol or alcohol use disorders.
If you are ready to begin your treatment for alcohol disorders or you are experiencing symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal, contact us via live chat or our phone line for more information. We can get you the help needed to overcome alcohol addiction and improve your health through detoxing from alcohol.
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